A one-stop guide to voting in Rhode Island this year

Christina Tremblay of Providence voted in the presidential primary in June.
Christina Tremblay of Providence voted in the presidential primary in June.Steven Senne/Associated Press

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Happy Wednesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I think it’s time to start banning people from the gym if they don’t wipe down the machines. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 17,986 confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, after adding 53 new cases. The most recent test-positive rate was 2.2 percent. The state announced one more death, bringing the total to 996. There were 64 people in the hospital, four in intensive care, and two were on ventilators.


Exactly 15 weeks from today, you’ll be waking up to a pithy comment in this space on the outcome of the presidential election – assuming, of course, that mail ballot counting doesn’t push the results until Thanksgiving.

Until then, there has been some confusion about the options you have for voting during a global health crisis. So here’s a brief guide on the most important dates to remember, along with a few other handy details to prepare you for both the primary and general election.

Key dates

  • Primary: Sept. 8
  • General: Nov. 3
  • In order to vote in the primary, you have to be registered by Aug. 9.
  • In order to vote in the general, you have to be registered by Oct. 4.
  • If you want to vote by mail in the primary, you have to submit an application by Aug. 18. (Download the application here, or call your local board of canvassers or the secretary of state’s office at 401-222-2340.)
  • If you want to vote by mail in the general, you have to submit an application by Oct. 13. (Download the application here, or call your local board of canvassers or the secretary of state’s office at 401-222-2340.)

Other things to know

  • Rhode Island is allowing early voting beginning 20 days before both the primary and general election, which means you can vote in-person at your local city or town hall. You will fill out your ballot the same way you would at your usual polling place. You’ll even get a sticker.
  • Rhode Island does have a voter identification law, so you’ll need a valid photo ID when you show up to vote.
  • There might be fewer polling places this year because of the coronavirus. That’s why voting by mail or voting in-person early may be a good option for you. But if you want to vote in-person on Sept. 8 or Nov. 3, you should check your polling place ahead of time. (Note: Final decisions haven’t been made on locations yet.)

Things we don’t know yet

  • To vote by mail, you need two witnesses or a notary to witness your signature. There has been some talk of a legal challenge to attempt to modify this rule, but it’s unclear if a change will be made.
  • Unlike the presidential primary when everyone received a mail ballot, you have to request a mail ballot ahead of time for the Sept. 8 state primary. It is still possible that mail ballot applications will be sent to everyone before the general election, but that decision has not been finalized.
  • Who should you vote for? Just kidding, I'm not going there.


Rhode Map wants to hear from you. If you’ve got a scoop or a link to an interesting news story in Rhode Island, e-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

⚓ My latest: School administrators are preparing for the unnerving task of reopening schools by purchasing supplies they never knew they’d need – and they’re constantly getting pitched products that they don’t want.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci isn’t just the most-trusted guy on the planet right now. Amanda Milkovits talked with a Brown University medical resident who learned firsthand that Fauci is a pretty decent guy.


⚓ Amanda was a guest on The Bartholomewtown Podcast this week. It’s worth a listen.

⚓ What happens when students or teachers get sick at school this fall? My colleague Naomi Martin reports on one of the most complicated parts of reopening classrooms.


Health: Dr. WIlliam G. Kaelin Jr. writes that wearing masks is both patriotic and compassionate; it is not a sign of weakness or disloyalty.

Lifestyle: You might not be able to get to Fenway this year, but you can listen to live performances from the stadium on Facebook tonight.

Important: Lesley Visser writes that the NFL has a long way to go to address harassment.

Opinion: With rumors circulating that former Ohio governor and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich will give a speech at the DNC this year, he wrote an op-ed for the Globe.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

BIRTHDAYS: Rhode Map readers, if you want a friend or family member to be recognized on Friday, send me an e-mail with their first and last name, and their age.

⚓ The Policy Lab at Brown University is hosting a virtual discussion at 10 a.m. on how small and minority-owned businesses in Rhode Island have been affected by COVID-19, how they’ve adapted to new public health regulations and requirements, and how Rhode Island leaders are responding to the unique needs of these businesses.


⚓ Governor Gina Raimondo’s coronavirus press briefing is at 1 p.m.

⚓ The task force that is studying the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBOR) meets for the first time at 1:30 p.m. It will air on Capitol TV.

⚓ Do you ️♥ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. We’ve got a great offer here.

Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to dan.mcgowan@globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you tomorrow.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.